Conversations Magazine Special Issue

Conversations Magazine Special Issue
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Saturday, January 11, 2020

LaWanna Bradford: Building A Business and Brand One Day at a Time

by Cyrus Webb

I've known LaWanna Bradford now for over a decade, and it's been great to see not just the ways she has grown her business but also empowered others along the way. As the founder of The Bradford Group and through her work  with the Celebrate You community, she displays through example what happens when you work hard, push forward and inspire along the way. One of her latest projects has been to add bestselling author to her name, having taken part in two anthologies, the most recent being 31 WAYS OF INFLUENCE.

In this conversation we discuss her work up to this point and what she hopes others realize about what they can achieve. 

LaWanna, it’s great to catch up with you again. You have been able to find your own path when it comes to entrepreneurship and success. Why has it been so important for you to help others, in particularly women to do the same?  
I have always enjoyed helping others, particularly women who are navigating their careers and developing their businesses. I understand the struggles of both the professional and entrepreneur, and have personally navigated many turbulent waters in both of these areas. As such, I believe that I have acquired a wealth of experience that can serve to guide and support women so that they are positioned to avoid the mistakes that I made and achieve their respective goals with minimal pain.

My mindset is rooted in the following advice from my mother, which is to “learn from the mistakes of others because you cannot live long enough to make them all yourself.” I hope that at the end of the day women are able to learn and grow from my experiences and my challenges

Have you always known that you were meant to be a leader? When did it become the clearest to you?
I believe that everyone is a leader in some context of their life. Some have a higher call that has them at the forefront addressing issues and leading causes.  Leadership as you know, extends far beyond the official title or position that one may hold. When I look back on my life, I have always been one to influence, inspire, and be a voice to those who feel they do not have a voice. In recent years I think things started to become clearer and my leadership path more defined as I began to revel in my authenticity and my truth.

Today in my leadership roles as a chapter leader of a national women’s organization and founder of the Celebrate You Women Embracing Wellness & Life movement, I pray that my leadership character is demonstrative in my service, humility, self-control, humor, and positive attitude toward life and others.

Who are some of the leaders you have been inspired by? 
There are several from whom I received inspiration. The ones that immediately come to mind are Shirley Chisholm, Nelson Mandela, Gloria Steinem, and Oprah.  What these four all have in common is their global fight for women’s rights and for those who are disenfranchised.  One of the quotes that I love from Nelson Mandela is, “Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”

In 2019 you definitely brought women together to inspire, motivate and empower them. What has it been like to have these offline events? 
It has been quite exciting to have people who are willing to come offline and engage in a face-to-face platform.  I have found that through this type of interaction, women are allowing themselves to be more vulnerable and more authentic than on a social platform. These groups take the spotlight off of them, if you will, and creates a level of intimacy that allows transparency and trust to blossom.

Through our Celebrate You offline events, I have found that the notion of “sisterhood” is one that is not only expressed, but felt and experienced by those who participate.

We have talked about fear before on the radio show. It’s one of those things that stop so many from pursuing their own goals and dreams. Tell our readers what has helped you to not given in to it?
Many of us have heard the saying that fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. We tend to fear that which has not yet happened. We have placed ourselves in the seat of anticipation that doom and gloom is around the next corner. In reference to goals and dreams, it is an interesting paradox that individuals often find themselves in a dichotomy whereby they fear failure as equally as they fear success.

Most would nod and say that they understand the fear of failing because we are often concerned about how we are being perceived and what other’s think about us. Often we use the opinion of others as a barometer to evaluate our self-worth and value. This, unfortunately, should never be the case, but we have all been there at one point in our lives wondering what people are thinking. This brings me to a truism that I heard a couple of years ago that made me smile. When we are in our 20s and 30s, we worry about what other people think. In our 40s and 50s, you stop worrying about what other people think. Finally in your 60s and 70s, you realize that they were never thinking about you in the first place.

Now today, when I look back over my life, the things that I “feared” were the unknown: the unknown outcome, the unknown players, the unknown reactions or expectations. However, I learned to quickly trust myself and realize that the opposite of fear is FAITH: For All Things I Trust Him. Therefore, if I truly trust GOD, then I have to lean on Him and trust that where my step is ordered, there will be guidance, wisdom, support and encouragement along the way. When I rest in that knowledge, I rest in a state of peace where fear cannot reside.

Love that. LaWanna, you and I connected online. In fact at the time of this discussion we haven’t met in person, but I know it’s coming. How has social media helped you to rally the troops as it were and bring like-minded individuals together? 
Yes, our face-to-face is coming soon! Social media has helped me to establish a presence and a reach in an exponential manner that would have taken much longer to achieve using traditional methods of face-to-face networking or warm/cold calls. Through the channels that I most often use at this time, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I have been able to tailor messages that cross the globe. I have been able to have meaningful engagement in an open format where I allow the audience or my tribe, if you will, to see my humanity, which at times includes my frailties. Basically it is a platform that allows me to create improved reality.

You are now a published author. I know we both are big readers as well, LaWanna. What is a title or two that has impacted you that you want to share with others?
I just completed The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha, which is about how you can live a happier life in your time, your career, your relationships and your family.  It is an easy and great introspective read. Another book that I read is called The Answer by John Assaraf that addresses scientifically how our minds are connected to the world through our subconscious and that we have the power to change the results that we are getting. I have read this book before, but it is one of those books that as life transitions and as I mature in different areas, I like to pick it up again to see what new nuggets fall from the pages.

Though we try to enjoy the moment we both have so many things that we’re looking forward to. What should our readers expect next from you? 
We have several great events and initiatives planned for 2020. With The Bradford Group (TBG), we are going to expand more into the commercial markets for lending.  The one thing that we are focused on with TBG is developing a training webinar series and soon to be event that are designed exclusively for novice and intermediate women investors. As a serial entrepreneur, I will be expanding my training within the Art of Strategic Planning, and will continue my speaking engagements in this area with the upcoming It Takes Money Honey Women Empowerment Cruise in March 2020. We will also begin the launch of our online Art of Strategic Planning Webinar second quarter 2020.

Thanks so much for this time, LaWanna. Continued success to you. How can our readers stay connected with you? 
My website is www.bradfordgroupmtg.com. My email is lawanna@bradfordgroupmtg.com. i can also be reached by phone at 404-618-2824. Thank you so very much, Cyrus. I enjoyed the interview, and I wish you nothing but life’s best.


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